Quick Point – Sine Die

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It’s a very appropriate day to start this new Pointing Left Podcast series, because the Oklahoma Legislative session for 2016 has ended (called sine die) and while the session involved lots of foolhardy efforts and unfortunate decisions, two things were being loudly celebrated by me and other progressive Okies:

  1. No additional abortion restrictions!

SB1552 was vetoed by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and other attempts to restrict women’s right to control their own bodies were stopped.  Thanks go to the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, Planned Parenthood — especially their lobbyist Tamya Cox — and the many women and allies who called and wrote, and walked from office to office at the Capitol. A special shoutout to my own Republican State Senator, Ervin Yen, himself a doctor, who despite being anti-abortion, voted against 1552, calling it “insane.” It’s nice to see some of those folks do have a limit to their misogyny.

In related news, just after news of 1552’s demise came down, I got an email from Julie Burkhard of Trust Women.  She said:

Greetings!

May has been a stormy month for those of us defending reproductive rights in the Midwest.

Oklahoma legislators passed and then Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed SB 1552, which sought to put doctors in handcuffs for performing abortions. Some lawmakers used the clinic we are opening early this summer in Oklahoma City as a political weapon against the governor, saying we would not have expanded access in the Sooner State if she had signed the bill.

Oh, how wrong they were.

Our plans have never hinged on politicians. Rather, they are tied directly to our mission: to open clinics that provide abortion care in underserved communities so that all women can make their own decisions about their health care.

I hope to spend the next few weeks focused on moving forward and not responding to those who do not trust women.

2. Bathroom bill — and other anti-LGBTQ bills killed

Freedom Oklahoma had an extraordinary legislative advocacy record this session — they stopped every single bill that sought to discriminate or target their community — over a dozen. Many of these were defeated early in the process, but director Troy Stevenson and his team knew better than to relax and countered a really ugly effort to punish transgenders. Kudos to Troy  and folks like Paula Sophia Schonaeur and Brittany Novotny for all they did under extreme pressure. And a very personal comment: I am so glad that the days of Lesbian and Gay organizations keeping our bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters at arms length is past us. Shows you how long I’ve been around, I guess. But now we are one queer community and have each others back! Yay!

3. Okay, three things: Today is Sally Kern’s last day to demean and torment LGBTQ people (and their allies)

In this case, at least, I support term limits! Many of us will be celebrating this milestone tonight in OKC and the world is welcome to join in spirit.

4. What the hell, 4 things!

Health care administrator and average Oklahoman Andy Moore almost single-handedly started and built an incredible movement of grassroots citizen advocacy called Let’s Fix This, bringing hundreds of first time or inexperienced citizens into the lobbying business to deal with this lazy ass, no good, morally compromised majority in the legislature and. These newly active folks didn’t get everything they wanted, but believe me, they were noticed and made a difference because things could have been even worse for public education without their work and repeated visits to the Capitol en masse. Next year they will be even stronger and a real force to be reckoned with.

5th thing — real quick — record number of first time candidates running for the OK leg to kick out the dunces who can’t or won’t do the job. Primary June 28, election day Nov. 8. Vote like it matters, because it does!

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